Trip report from CR....

Jun 21st, 2005, 11:33 AM
  #1  
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Trip report from CR....

Got back last week from a family trip to CR. Spent about 10 days roaming Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Arenal and La Paz. Loved the beaches, loved the food, loved the people and loved the scenery. I just fell in love with Costa Rica. After our trip I was ready to move there...or at least visit again.

We started by flying into San Jose and getting a rental car from Adobe. Was expecting the worst, and was pleasently surprised how smoothly everything went. Reading up on this site prepared me for a lot of things, including the ferry ride from Punterans to the Nicoya peninsula.

The Mal Pais area is paradise. We stayed at Flor Blanca for 6 nights. This was truly one of the most magnificent places I've ever stayed. The beaches were deserted and the grounds were again...paradise. I thought I'd be trying to do it all and get everything in that I wanted to do there, but I quickly acclimated to the "pura vida" way of life. The weather was great. I was concerned about rain, and although it rained here and there, it never got in the way. We visited Montezuma, hiked to a waterfall, but mostly surfed and relaxed on the beach.

From Mal Pais we went to Arenal. We took our time getting to Arenal. We wanted to stay in Mal Pais as long as possible. So we drove till it got dark and stayed at the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort outside of San Ramon. A great place to stop on the way to Arenal. We wish we could have spent more time there! It was so beautiful and the rooms were nice...fireplace and jacuzzi.

In Arenal we stayed at Tabacon. A very beautiful resort, but the rooms and service were not to par with the other places we had just stayed. Still, all in all, it was a nice place. It was nice to have access to the hot springs before it was opened to the public. We had great weather in Arenal and the volcano was visible our whole visit. Found a great place to watch the volcano at night. It was incredible to see the red rocks fall down the mountain side. If you go to the observatory you can actually hear the rock fall. We did the SkyTrek canopy tour. I didn't think 7 ziplines was a lot, but by the end of it I was wiped-out. It was such a rush! Also did a guided hike to the volcano base and walked on old lava rock. I recommend this highly, I thought it would be nothing big, but learned a lot from our guide Paulo. Did the short hike to La Fortuna Waterfall. A 70m high waterfall! It's easy 10-15 minute hiking down to it, but the hike back up gets you winded.

From Arenal we spent our last night at the Peace Lodge in La Paz. Only one night. Rooms were beautiful...reminded me a little of Disney. The butterfly garden and hummingbird garden were so beautiful. Got to feed hummingbirds from a feeder right out of my hand! Could feel the wind of their wings on my face.

My husband and I are already planning on going back. We'd like to visit Mal Pais again for sure, but would also like to see Tamarindo and Nosara. Thanks to everyone for their postings and answering my questions before I went. I learned a lot from this site. I now understand why so many of you love Costa Rica and talk so fondly of it, now I will do the same.
goingtoCR is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 11:48 AM
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Yeah !!!!! Malpais sounds super . Question; is the ocean calm enough in areas there for my 6 and 9 yr. old to swim ?
faithie is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 12:06 PM
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goingtoCr,
Welcome on the "hooked on Costa Rica" club!

So glad you had a fabulous time. I was really interested in your mention of the resort near San Ramon--sounds like a place we might give a try next month. Welcome home!
shillmac is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 12:19 PM
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We got back from Costa Rica last week and spent some time in Montezuma where we took a day trip to Mal Pais/Santa Teresa. We liked the area but found the town to be really spread apart and with all the rain that was going on that week we decided on not staying there. The beaches did look wonderful though!

Faithie - many of the beaches in Costa Rica have some pretty strong rip currents. I wouldn't advise letting any yong kids do any swimming in the ocean. Mal Pais/Santa Teresa does have a few rivers that enter into the ocean on the beach that might be better for kids to play in.
sean420 is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 12:25 PM
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Thanx Sean .... We actually spent hours in the ocean in M.A., with the kids . There are some calm swimming beaches there . I just wondered if Malpais or Montezuma had some calmer coves . Faith .
faithie is offline  
Jun 21st, 2005, 03:29 PM
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Welcome home and thanks for the nice report.

And yes, now you understand fully why so many of us are quite passionate about Costa Rica. I never have been able to quite put into words the reasons I love it so much, it is really a feeling and those that have it, know what I mean.

Also happy to read about Villa Blanca, have wondered several times about this one. Would love to hear more.
dfarmer is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2005, 06:07 AM
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faithie: When we were at Mal Pais the surf was huge, so swimming wasn't advisable. Around Montezuma we did find some little coves that allowed for swimming. A lot depended on the tides. We saw a lot of people swimming when the tide was very low in Santa Teresa. You could swim around the tide pools of the rocks around our hotel, but only during low tide.

Sounds like there are a few interested in the Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Hotel. They have a great website. We never made any reservations, just drove in, although I did call beforehand to make sure they had availability. It was then a two hour drive from Villa Blanca to Arenal. They just re-opened in Dec of 2004, so everything was new and clean. Each room is a little villa. The villa we got was the mid-range and it had a jacuzzi and wood-burning fireplace. We used the fireplace because it was actually quite cool when we arrived. The only negative was the bed sheets, had a musky smell. The restaurant had excellent, authentic centro-american food and our server was so nice. A breakfast is included and it was good as well. They have a full spa, a room to play pool and games and a small bar for drinks. We had arrived at night, so when we woke up and saw the surroundings we were surprised. Green rolling hills all around us. The sun was out and we could see Arenal in the distance. It was a beautiful. It was such a nice place, we were really bummed we only had our one night there, but I highly recommend it.
goingtoCR is offline  
Jun 24th, 2005, 08:58 AM
  #8  
 
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Hi, can you tell more about the road conditions in CR? I will be going there at the end of July for 10 days and will be driving a small group around Arenal, La Fortuna.. Anything you can tell me will help! Thanks
Alet is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 12:35 PM
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Alet: Driving conditions were much better than I expected in CR. We rented our own SUV and were happy we did, instead of doing buses and taxis. Driving out of the airport wasn't too bad. We just told our rental car company where we were heading and they gave us specific directions, we didn't get lost at all.

We heard the road coming from San Jose area into Arenal was terrible. Quite the opposite. To our delight, they had just paved the roads recently, so it is a smooth paved drive. Lots of curves, but a nice drive. Once you get into the Arenal area you will come across dirt roads to get to different areas, but we came across nothing that was undriveable. Having 4WD was a plus.

You will find many signs leading you along the way when you make the drive to La Fortuna. We had a map with us, but followed the road signs more than a map. It was hard to figure out the cities we were driving through when referring to our map. We found out that if you look at the blue telephone signs, the city is listed below them. Otherwise there are not many signs saying what city you are in. Have fun!
goingtoCR is offline  
Jun 28th, 2005, 06:16 AM
  #10  
 
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Thanks for the additonal info on Villa Blanca!!
dfarmer is offline  

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